Footloose and Fancy Free

Falguni Gokhale


International Women’s Day SpecialF

Falguni Gokhale is the kind of woman who, I always tell myself, I should be: Full of life and as multi-facetted as they come. A communications and graphic designer from the National Institute of Design, Falguni is head of visual design at Design Directions, a product and visual communication studio where she takes up projects for large FMCG , IT, Engineering companies and NGO.What intrigues me is the other side of her, the projects she does to fulfil her emotional needs.

When the creative urge strikes this vivacious, outspoken woman with a great sense of humour, she retreats to her studio tucked away in a corner of her apartment and fashions unique pieces of jewellery using brass, copper and silver cut outs , semi-precious stones and shells, among other things, each of them inspired by nature.

On a visit to a flower show a few years ago, she came upon a farmer’s stall where, in a corner, lay a bunch of long, rugged, mysterious looking beans that intrigued her. She had no idea what they were but she ended up buying the entire pile and brought them home where she tucked them in a cabinet drawer, promptly forgetting all about them. When she finally stumbled upon them again, some of the beans had broken open and inside were huge seeds that fascinated her with their size, texture and myriad shapes.

“I decided to use them in a few necklaces I was making and while some of my friends initially raised their eyebrows and rolled their eyes when they heard my plan, they fell in love as soon as they saw the necklaces with the seeds as the centre piece. The result, of course, was that I did not have a single one left for myself.”

That discovery has led to a great fascination for seeds, a quest that actively takes her on treks, hikes and visits to the seaside so that she can collect seeds that waves often wash ashore. Her friends now get her unusual seeds as gifts when they return from vacations and each of these find their way into her jewellery. I adore the jewellery pieces where she uses lotus seed pods to dramatic effect.

Falguni has other tricks up her sleeve too. Remember the childhood ‘bhatukli cha khel’ that most of us have probably engaged in? I used to be fascinated by the tiny, shiny pressure cookers, pots, pans, plates, spoons and even a miniature cooking stove that some fond aunt gifted us a long time ago when I was a little girl with oily plaits. Summer vacations we would spend hours pretending to be young mothers running the house and cooking for our kids and even though I don’t even pretend to enjoy cooking in my adult life, I continue to be enchanted by the bhatukli toys that new age kids have probably never seen, thanks to the pulls of smart phones and other devices at their disposal.

Drawing on her own memories of her grandmother, Heeraba’s kitchen in the family’s sprawling ancestral home in Gujrat’s Kaira district, Falguni has designed a range of bhatukli sets , with miniature cooking stoves, pots, pans, the ancient ‘copper bamba’ used to heat water, buckets and other essentials of village life. Almost akin to art installations, the visual artist has built stories around these installations and often spends hours scouting the lanes of Burud Alee where she works with basket weavers who make miniature baskets and other items that amp up the installations. At home, she spends her free time working with clay to make miniatures of clusters of bananas, sacks full of rice, wheat, and potatoes, all staples in Indian kitchens.

The visual designer’s creative side can be found all around her, including the homes of her friends. When my friend, textile designer India Broker , wanted an interesting element added to her chic, minimalistic studio, she gave Falguni carte blanche to work her magic on the off white, rough textured sofas that sat in her studio. The result is a trio of plump sofas with quaint paintings of women’s faces on them, that never fail to draw gasps of admiration from clients and visitors.

The lady, meanwhile, has designs on public transport as well. Literally. The cheerful, colourful Pune Darshan buses that drive past you on city roads have been designed by her and so have some of the smart new BRTS buses.

“I see a design possibility where other people see drab spaces and things,” signs off Falguni.

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon is an Author, a Writing Coach and a Speaker on Gender and Diversity.

You can reach her on or her twitter handle@sudhamenon2006
Sudha Menon